Designing and Building an Electrical Panel Part 3: Internal and External Equipment Layout and Installation

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As you look at a panel being assembled in your shop, put yourself into the position of the customer and ask some critical questions about the internal and external equipment. Obviously there are specific technical issues that must be addressed, such as circuit breaker selection, but there is also the quality of the overall realization. These points are not as defined, but are capable of making an impression on the customer.

When looking at the front of the enclosure, what impression does it give, both functionally and visually?

  • Do all devices that penetrate the enclosure have an IP rating matching the requirements for the whole system?
  • Are labels, push buttons and lights placed evenly?
  • Are rotary switches placed where they are easy to operate?
  • If there is a touch panel, is it located appropriately and mounted straight?
  • Do devices on the door respect the maximum supportable weight and avoid conflict with normal operation?
  • Is the paint or metal finish intact without deformations or scratches?
  • Are devices arranged following sensible ergonomic concepts?

Internal Arrangements Also Matter

A technician looking inside will form opinions about your work based on appearance. Look into the cabinet (see Figure 1) and decide what impression it gives:

Figure 1. Whenever possible, devices should be placed in the column from top to bottom of the most powerful to the least powerful.
  • Are racks and rails mounted correctly, straight and level? Are cables arranged and tied neatly?
  • Are sensitive communication cables separated from power cables and other EMI (electromagnetic interference) sources?
  • Is wire duct sized appropriately for the size and number of conductors?
  • Have all metal chips from drilling and grinder dust been removed?
  • Does the flow of components follow standard practices and a logical arrangement so that power flows are easy to trace visually?

Function is Critical But Looks Leave an Impression

The ability to create an enclosure that looks as good as it operates will identify your shop as a professional operation. Selection of high quality components also tells customers your enclosures are designed for many years of trouble-free operation. Schneider Electric’s Panel Builder Partner Portal offers many practical resources to help make the best design and component selection. When your shop delivers products exhibiting excellence in all areas, customers will return for additional projects. The final post in this designing and building an electrical panel will look at managing switchboard temperatures.

Discover Schneider Electric’s complete range of switchboards here.

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